Polk considers future of Park Street land

Published 5:40 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Polk County commissioners are considering what to do with land the county owns on Park Street in Columbus that was originally purchased to construct the new department of social services (DSS) building.

Commissioners met July 8 and heard from commissioner Tom Pack who placed the discussion on the agenda. Pack said the land was purchased during the 2008-2009 fiscal year for the DSS building. He said a later board of commissioners decided to construct the DSS building at its current location in Mill Spring.

“So we have this property and no use for it,” Pack said. “I’d like to take action at the next meeting.”

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The two-acre parcel is located on Park Street between Country Bear Day School and Gibson Pool and Park. The county purchased the property in 2009 for $95,000. Later, the county decided the county-owned property at the middle school/recreation complex in Mill Spring was better suited for the new DSS building, which was constructed there and opened in December 2011.

During the July 8 meeting, Pack suggested the Park Street property be sold with the money going to the economic tourism and development commission (ETDC) towards a business park for the county.

County attorney Jana Berg said the county could declare the property surplus then open it up for bids and do an upset bid process.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said looking around Columbus it’s hard to find property that’s for sale.

“Even though this is surplus now, let’s really think about this,” Gasperson said.

Commissioner chair Michael Gage asked Gasperson what he sees located at the Park Street property.

Gasperson said he’s always seen the county transportation department located there.

Interim county manager Marche Pittman said the county may want to consider offering the property to the ETDC instead of the cash of a sale.

“They may have a use for the property,” said Pittman. “It may not be viable but I would like to give that option.”

Commissioners agreed to give the ETDC options on what to do with the property.

The ETDC has not yet discussed its options for the Park Street property. The ETDC meets again on July 31.

Commissioners have also recently granted the ETDC money made from selling the Jervey-Palmer building in Tryon, which used to house DSS and other county offices. The county sold the property for $50,000 and gave the EDTC the more than $49,000 profit (after closing costs) in order to plan an industrial park in the county to attract businesses.